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World Clocks

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just another day at the office...

My college roomate and I had coffee together the other day. She asked me what our days are like. So, here's what happened yesterday...

Woke up early and did my Bible study and reading for the day. Prayed for wisdom.
Natalie woke up crying. Took her temperature, it was 103. Got her dressed, woke the big girls, and they got ready for school. Gave Natalie some Motrin. Made everyone breakfast. Drove everyone to school and called Natalie's preschool to ensure no one has swine flu :) After an hour, picked the girls up from school. We worked together to clean out the garage. "Dora" wanted me to carry an old dresser from the garage into her bedroom, and when I said it was too heavy she pouted and stopped talking to me.

Bought a new thermometer and more Motrin. Asked the girls about the bathroom sink that's clogged. "Ochililly." That's the Amharic word for peanuts. "You put peanuts down the drain?" I asked incredulously." The 3-year-old replied, "Oh, no, Mama, not the peanuts, just the shells."
Dora still isn't speaking.

Brought the girls back to school for their speech and language evaluations. The interpreter is Ethiopian and she stopped by afterwards. She had cooked a boat-load of injera and shiro-wat along with gomen and some other things I didn't recognize but was excellent. We enjoyed a cup of tea and lots of dabo with marmelade.

The ESL teacher came over and worked with the girls for 90 minutes while Li slept and I poured Drano down and chased it with kettles of boiling hot water to melt the peanut shells.

Afterwards, all of the girls rode their bikes while I made dinner. Baths, ate, read books, brushed, doled out Motrin and Zyrtek on demand, girls picked out their clothes for the next day, prayed, and went to BED. Dora still isn't talking to me but she put her hand on my shoulder while I read her favorite story, so tomorrow will be fine. I think.

P.S. The plumber came. For $165, he pulled out a Diego toothbrush, half of a purple toothbrush travel holder, and one bar of blue-colored soap, but no peanut shells.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Need to Vent...

I need to vent. Last night we were at a dinner party with many people we've known a long time and some we had never met before. A woman I have met only once before (and that was at a funeral) commented on how beautiful the girls are. She then asked me if I was familiar with "Reactive Attachment Disorder" and "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

"Uhh, yes." I replied. And then--stupidly--I did what I often do when people ask me out-of-the-blue questions that are loaded. I gave her personal information that was none of her business.

"I was researching attachment specialists this afternoon," I shared. And, of course, this prolonged the conversation that I didn't want to have.

"Did you find a good one?" While replying to her question, I was churning inside. "Why is she asking me this? Is she a trained attachment specialist who sees obvious evidence of either of these devestating issues? Or is she someone who read an article in Women's Day about traumatized Romanian orphans? Why am I having such a serious conversation with someone I don't know? What's her point?

I often feel like I am on the receiving end of "unsolicited advice-giving" because surely if I had replied that I didn't know a thing about disordered attachment and PTS she would have regaled me with what she knows.

So, there are a few things going on for me during conversations such as these:

1) my own disturbed perspective that I have to answer unwanted questions, that I need to make the person feel valued and respected

2) my annoyance at people who think they know what's going on or is best for my kids (even if they have never spent one full day with them) This happens nearly daily. A stranger will correct my children's behavior, an acquaintance will tell me how and where they should be educated, a church member will tell me what I should do about their hair....BUT I didn't ask for this information and I am not interested in hearing it. Do they think that I just blindly make decisions for my children or am totally clueless??

3) my own insecurities that the stranger might indeed be right.

So, I ask myself, "How ought a real Christian respond?"

The first thing that comes to mind is that I ought to be respectful, concise, and I could do what Jesus often did, ask them a question instead of answering theirs. The adoption literature says that it's fair to respond with, "What makes you ask?" to bizarre questions.

Yet, sometimes I don't want to ask them anything or continue the conversation.

So, today, I am going to start a new strategy. If someone asks me a question that I feel is out of line I am going to turn the conversation off by saying, "That's not something we talk about outside our family."

And for all the people who provide unwanted advice on their behaviour, grooming, education, sports, etc. I am going to say, "Well, that's a decision we made/will make based on everything we know about what's best for our children."

I feel so annoyed when complete strangers ask me about the children's parents. That happened, too, last night. "Do you know what happened to their real parents?" A lady asked.

"Um, we are their real parents. Do you mean their Ethiopian parents?"

"Yes, that's what I meant. They're biological parents."

"Yes, we do," I answered. And she looked at me to give her more information but I just looked into her eyes daring her to ask another personal question.

UUGHHH why do people think that questions like these are okay to ask?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Amharic Church!

Today is May 3, and the big girls and I went to an Ethiopian Church in Amharic this morning. Afterwards, we had traditional Ethiopian food with our new friends, and even met a family of four kids (three from Ethiopia) who live 15 minutes away from us. Among the group was also Sim who teaches Amharic to graduate students and to the youngsters whose parents attend the church service.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Day for Special Mothers

Three years ago, I dreaded Mother's Day. My husband and I had been struggling with unexplained infertility for 4 1/2 years; although, I always referred to it in monthly time slots. "It's been 50 months," I cried. Then, "We've been trying for 51 months," "Now it's been 53 months," I wept.

I always loved going to church, but not on that day. Every Mother's Day, well-intentioned volunteers would pass out a single rose or daffodil for "all the mothers out there." Most times I would smile and say, "Not for me, thanks." One year I burst into tears, and the kind elderly grandmother said, "There, there, honey, you are a mother-to-be," as she pressed the flower into my empty hand.

This Mother's Day, my husband and I will be celebrating with our three daughters: Natalie, age three, born in China; Alem, age 8, born in Ethiopia; and Alem's biological sister, Dabash, age 10. My heart feels like it will burst with love and joy. I am writing this today to encourage every woman who has felt the torrent of grief, pain, resentment, bewilderment, and anger that pours down due to infertility. Please know that your pain will be transformed into joy.

The path to becoming a family has been long, expensive and challenging. I often thought we would never see it through to fruition. Anyone who knows anyone who has gone through international adoptions knows that this is not a path for wimps.

Today, however, I am not focused on my daughters, or even their biological mothers. (I think about them every day. ) This day I am acutely aware of the women, half a world away, who served as my girls' "special mothers" in their orphanages. These are the young women, Asian and African, who fed and clothed my babies when I was pining for them. They sang songs to them when I all I could do was cry. These gentle, sweet souls prayed for my daughters while I prayed, too. Together, our prayers mingled and raised like incense which I know was pleasing to our Lord.

When I met these ladies--in China they are called "Baby Nannies" and in Ethiopia they were named "Special Mothers" -- I was struck by their sincerity, their joy and their love for the children I would call my daughters.

"I prayed for your girls everyday," one whispered to me in a flower garden outside the African ophanage, "and I also prayed for you."

When the baby nanny hugged my Chinese daughter for the last time she said sweetly in English, "It's time for you to go to your American mommy now, my darling," and she swung her gently to make the baby laugh one last time in her arms.

These are the women I will be thinking about today. You are always in our hearts.